Welcome to the neighborhood

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We were in our last house just over three years. Not a long time by any means but long enough to see other families come and go.

The neighborhood we lived in was a mixture of empty nesters and young families—homes turning over as older couples helped their grown children move out and younger couples welcomed babies of their own.

Only after moving to Hudson have I realized how differently I wish I had welcomed new neighbors.

When we lived in Centerville and new neighbors arrived, I assumed they were moving from within the area (like we had) or had moved because they had family nearby. I figured they already had connections and knew where the good pizza places were.

We’d introduce ourselves to new neighbors when we bumped into them on a walk or while the kids were outside playing. We’d make small talk and tell them welcome to the neighborhood.

Being on the other side of this situation has flipped my perspective and changed how I will greet new neighbors in the future.

We moved to Hudson at the end of July and by the end of August we had yet to meet any young families. I was feeling particularly sorry for myself one morning, thinking about all the good friends we’d left behind, and as the kids and I left for a walk I said a quick prayer for more opportunities to feel connected to this area.

About ten minutes into our walk I saw two moms in a backyard with a playset. A cozy coupe sat on the driveway and toddlers ran around.

Well, this is it,” I thought. A big, “Here ya go. Here are some young families. Quit feeling sorry for yourself,” sign.

But the moms couldn’t see me from the street, so in order to meet them, I’d have to go up and introduce ourselves.

I know most of the time golden tickets don’t just fall into laps. You have to meet those chance moments and prayer requests halfway. So, with a racing heart and sweaty palms, I turned the stroller up a stranger’s driveway and marched to the top with the kids.

“Hello!,” I called out. They said hi, smiled, and walked over. “We just moved in and I thought I’d introduce ourselves.”

They were nice and have kids around the same ages as Garrett and Laine. We made small talk and when my kids started to get antsy in the stroller I knew it was time for us to keep moving. They both told me welcome to the neighborhood and we said goodbye.

As I walked away I was wishing they had given me their phone numbers or asked me for mine. I had already rolled up into their yard and crashed their playdate, I wasn’t about to ask for their numbers too.

Desperate new neighbor here! We know NO ONE within a two-hour radius. Give me your phone numbers. Let’s be best friends.

 So, the kids and I kept walking with no way to get in touch with these people, aside from showing up at their doorstep uninvited (again).

That was a month and a half ago. I haven’t seen either of those ladies or their kids since.

We’ve been pushing forward and grabbing hold of new opportunities and meeting other young families, but it is a continual effort of putting ourselves out there. Despite the challenge of starting over in a new community with young kids, I am grateful for the shift in perspective this move has provided.

The house next door to us has been for sale since we’ve moved in and I’ve been praying that a nice, young family will move in. (And that they will have kids the same ages as Garrett and Laine, will love sports, enjoy a strong drink, not be offended by the occasional swear word, and know how to play euchre like good Midwesterns. Bonus points if one of their families has a lake or beach house they like to invite new friends to. Speak it into existence). 

While I don’t know who will move into that house, I do know whenever they show up I’m not going to wait to bump into them to say hello. I’m going to walk over and ring their doorbell, take them some banana bread or cookies, leave my name and phone number on a post-it, and only then will I say welcome to the neighborhood.

Starting Over

It’s been well over a year since I’ve posted to this page and there seems to be plenty of reasons I can think of as to why:

  • Had a baby
  • Learned how to deal with a newborn and a 1-year-old
  • Went back to work
  • Learned how to deal with an infant and 1-year-old while working
  • Decided we’d be moving
  • Listed our house
  • Went house hunting 3.5 hours away (a bunchhhh of times)
  • Sold our house
  • Went under contract for one house. That fell through (looking at you, black mold)
  • Bought a different house
  • Said a lot of Good Byes
  • Moved
  • Still learning how to start over in a new city with a 10-month-old and 2-year-old while maintaining relationships with previous clients

Throughout all of it I’ve thought about writing here again. But I continually questioned myself. Why? What’s the point? Who’s going to read it? Why should they read it?

I’m not baking cakes or training for a marathon. I’m not feeding my family a diet of things grown only in our garden (we don’t have one) or traveling the world with two kids under two (coming soon to theaters near you, TBD if the MA rating is derived from comedic or horror elements, but strong language is definitely a factor).

I don’t have a cute theme to fall back on so I’ve thought whatever I end up writing here will simply be one more thought in a broken world that is already filled with so many.

Despite these seeds of doubt, I continue to feel pulled to writing here.

So I’m going to follow that. And maybe a bigger purpose will present itself, or maybe it’s just so I can process the world we live in with an audience of myself, my mom, and some spam bots (Hi, Mom!).

Regardless, I’m choosing to trust that you don’t always have to have an end goal to start something. You don’t have to see the whole picture to begin, and if you continually feel pulled to do something, follow that feeling, and don’t be afraid to start over.

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Moving has been filled with finding new spots for everything–groceries, parks, and even pumpkins!

 

There are no badges in motherhood

IMG_4900Growing up, there was a brief winter or two in my elementary years where I thought I was a brilliant figure skater—and had no shortage of self-confidence. I lived for the red and white badges that were handed out at the completion of each level. The cold air in the rink stung my throat and burned my eyes but it was all worth it. Because I could do a T-stop, I had survived Level 1, and I had a badge to prove it.

I also was an elementary Girl Scout from Brownies right on through to fifth grade. The colorful triangle-shaped badges that were awarded for new skills and adventures were presented with such ceremony. The rainbows, and deer, and nature paths, and sunshine symbols all demonstrated that I was learning how to navigate the world.  Looking back now, I can see my mom’s veiled smile showing her pride when I brought home a new badge while also hiding her dread at the thought of having another thing to sew on a vest.

I can’t blame my mom that a lot of the badges didn’t make it onto my puce-colored vest. Seriously… who has time for that?

I honestly couldn’t even tell you where that vest is now… likely pitched while cleaning out a childhood closet.

However, the badges from figure skating and girl scouts and other childhood activities that didn’t make it onto the vest, the ones that were placed in a gallon freezer bag with the best intentions of eventually making it onto a vest, those are still with me today.

As I’ve become a mom I’ve noticed that mothers often appear to be in competition. Not necessarily with one another, but in the sense that they want to make sure they’re doing it “right”. And I’m not sure why a mentality or expectation of being rewarded for actions or tasks that are assumed validating resurfaces when women become mothers.

  • No coffee or deli meat during pregnancy – you get a badge.
  • Natural childbirth – you get a badge.
  • Breastfeeding for a full year… at minimum – you get a badge.
  • No pacifiers – you get a badge.
  • No processed foods and baby-led weaning – you get a badge.
  • Potty-trained by the age of 2 – you get a badge.
  • Homeschooling kids – you get a badge.

What???

Let’s be real here.

Motherhood is the ultimate test of skills and survival.

And the thing is, there isn’t just one right way to do it. There is no guidebook you can follow to cross off steps as they are completed to earn a badge.

Everyone’s situation, family, and children are different and what works for one mom and family, might not work for another.

I think that, often, it is the moms who have the best intentions–the ones who take the time to be with their children and miss “checking off” an imagined list of boxes–who are doing it right.

Sure, your kid might have had caffeine while in utero, and you might have gotten an epidural or a c-section, and some nights everyone might be eating Lunchables for dinner–but that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.

If you feel like you are doing what is best for you and your kids, then that is all that matters.

Everything else can just be put in a bag and set aside until later.

 

 

 

Stop Using “Girl” to Refer to a Woman

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Hey girl

You’ve got this, girl

You go, girl

Girl power!

Girls weekend

This girl I work with

The use of the word girl when referring to an adult female is commonplace in our society. I know I’ve been guilty of it. When phrases are ingrained in a culture their use becomes second nature. We don’t think twice about it.  But what happens when we do think twice about it?

The more I’ve thought about the power of language and considered how using the word girl to refer to a woman has become a social norm, the angrier I’ve become by it. I went from questioning the use of these phrases and terms to making a pointed effort to not use them.

I’m sure there will be eye rolls at this post. Judgements made that I’m looking too far into things or being too sensitive or creating something where there is nothing.

But just stop and think about it for one minute. Why do grown women–and even men–refer to other grown women as girls?

Language carries consequences that run deeper than surface level expressions and phrases. While we may think we’re just exchanging a casual sentiment, we’re actually setting the tone and providing the foundation of how we perceive one another and how others perceive us.

“Language is the power, life and instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation.” – Angela Carter

Replace any of these common “girl” phrases with “boy” and envision them being exchanged in everyday settings. Have you ever heard anyone say, “this boy from work” when referencing a male colleague? Or picture a group of men shouting excitedly for “boy power!” Or envision a man offering a serious sentiment of encouragement to a male friend by saying, “you’ve got this, boy“.

When the word boy is used in a serious manner to refer to a man it is condescending and disrespectful. So why do women, and men, routinely use the word girl to refer to a woman? Why do women not only accept this, but go as far to frame it in a positive light?

Even when used in an encouraging manner or in an attempt to express friendship, when women address other women as girls we undercut our identities and place ourselves in a subservient position of power.

One of the easiest steps women can take towards achieving equality and parity in our society can be accomplished through making conscious decisions in how we address one another, support one another, and lift one another up in our choices in language. We have the power to elevate each other in the words we use. We also have the power to speak out against words we won’t tolerate. The next time someone describes a female colleague as “this girl I work with” question them. Stop perpetuating the acceptance of “girl” as a descriptor for an adult female. Choose to elevate all women by referring to one another as the powerful and capable individuals we are.

 

Oh Shipt. How Grocery Delivery is Changing My Life.

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I’m never going back. Never again will I troll through aisle after aisle pushing a cart while visually scanning and comparing prices. My days of maneuvering between the 10-foot plastic car carts and people stopped in the middle of rows riffling through coupon books are over. At least for the foreseeable future.

Between Levi and I both logging long hours, watching Garrett, and growing a new human, the 2 hours I spent every Saturday morning grocery shopping was a major bummer. From making the list, to driving to the store, to the actual act of shopping, to waiting in line at checkout, to putting all the groceries in the car, to driving home, to unloading all of the groceries from the car, to putting all the groceries away… it’s too much.

I know, I know. First world problems. But still.

There are options where I don’t have to do this. We can use those 2 hours every Saturday morning to spend time as a family, or I can get some more work done, or I can even take a nap for the growing human. Over the past five weeks I’ve tried 3 options that didn’t involve me stepping foot in the grocery store and felt the need to share.

  1. Send the husband. When I was towards the end of my first pregnancy Levi did the grocery shopping every week. He usually doesn’t get home until 5:30 or 6 p.m. so I typically make dinner most week nights. We’ve found it’s been easier if I make the grocery list for the week, that way I can meal plan around my schedule as well. Levi is great about going grocery shopping but (with his permission I’m sharing) he forgets things. Which usually requires a follow up trip later. Also, if he goes to the store we still lose out on time we could be spending together as a family.
  2. Kroger ClickList. Kroger Marketplace is where I’ve shopped every week for the past 2+ years. Digital coupons, fresh produce, 5 minutes from our house… what’s not to love? The Kroger closest to us still does not offer ClickList so I was excited when a new Kroger Marketplace about 15-20 minutes away started offering ClickList last month. So I thought I’d give it a try.
    • Downsides.
      • Limited pick-up windows. I placed my order at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning. We were going to church and I wanted to be able to pick the groceries up on the way home. The earliest available pick up window was from 1-2 p.m. Which meant we went to church, came home, and I still had to make a special trip back out for groceries.
      • Long trip time. I had to drive 15-20 minutes to the store, then I spent 15 minutes waiting in the ClickList parking lot / having the employees load my groceries (I was the only car in the ClickList pick up lanes so I’m not sure why it took so long), and then I had to drive 15-20 minutes home and still unload all the groceries from the car (Levi helped). The whole trip still an hour+… not a great time saver.
      • Fee per pick-up.  There is a $5 fee per order–not terrible, but not great when you consider other options.
  3. Shipt. This. Is. It. If there was a Mom category for the Nobel Prize this would be a contender for first place. Shipt partners with local retailers and it varies by region. For us, Meijer is the grocery store available.
    • What I love:
      • $8 monthly fee. That’s it. Less than Netflix. Orders over $35 (which we easily spend in a week) have no delivery fee. Since we order groceries once a week, I’m looking at $2 per order. Worth it.
      • Delivery windows every hour. From when you order you can typically choose to have your groceries delivered any hour beginning 1.5 hours after you place the order. Delivery windows have also been available every hour of the day each time I’ve ordered. I have had groceries delivered between 9-10 p.m., 7-8 a.m., and 3-4 p.m.
      • Communication. Your shopper texts you when they start shopping, asks you about substitutions while shopping, lets you know when they’re on their way to your house, and once they’ve arrived.
      • Delivery. Groceries show up at your house and our shoppers have carried them inside and set them on our kitchen counter. It’s like a unicorn sighting. I don’t have to go outside. I don’t have to lug bags of groceries and gallons of milk in and out of the car. Everything just magically appears.
      • Tipping Options. Tips aren’t required for ClickList or Shipt but I’ve tipped all of our Shipt shoppers so far. They have all been polite, high school / college kids who got everything on my list correct AND carried the groceries in. The Shipt app gives you the option to add a tip after your order is complete so it’s fine if you don’t have spare cash on you.
      • Your previously ordered items are saved. Items you’ve previously ordered are saved so when you make your list the following week it is quick and easy to add regular things like milk, eggs, bread, yogurt, bananas, cereal, etc.
      • Easier to manage budget. You can easily see prices for different brands while creating your order. Also, I haven’t made any impulse purchases like I do while in the actual grocery store (I’m looking at you, donut holes). These two things alone have resulted in lower weekly bills even with the monthly fee and shopper tips.
    • Downsides
      • Price discrepancies. Some items are priced higher than they would be in-store. One week a bag of Doritos was over $5. I ended up not buying them and told myself we were all probably better off because of it. For other items like toilet paper and paper towels I am using prime pantry or getting them on once-a-month Sam’s Club trips.

I realize I just wrote a small novel prior to 7 a.m. on grocery delivery. Grocery shopping is something we all have to do (unless you eat take-out for every meal, in which case, Bravo). If there is a way to do it better, I’d want to know! The two hours I’ve gained back every weekend since using Shipt have been invaluable. I’ve been able to get other work done (and make money) or, better yet, spend more time with my family. And you can’t put a price on that.